Cobain: It was nice, because Dave turns out to be just as much of a slob as me.
Grohl: We had been practicing in this really weird practice space. This man built a studio in his barn in his backyard. He was in this really bad, like, Howard Johnson’s lounge band. Everything was carpeted with this brown shag carpet — he even had stage lights in there — and he had this massive PA that he just did not know how to use. You’d turn it on, and there’d be this huge hiss. We were practicing a lot; we were writing a lot of material. We’d write songs, they were great for two weeks — “Oh my God, this is the best song ever” — and we’d forget them. So then we said, “Okay, we’ll put them on cassette.” So we started recording them on this boom-box thing, and we’d lose the cassettes. I mean we wrote so much material that we just forgot about it, and once in a while we’d pull one out and turn it around.
Novoselic: There were some labels we were impressed by, but we thought DGC would be the best for us.
Was one of the main reasons because of Sonic Youth?
Novoselic: Yeah, we knew Sonic Youth were happy on there, and we always loved and respected Sonic Youth. And there were all these rumors. Even in Spin magazine, it was printed that we got $750,000, and we didn’t even get a quarter of that. Instead of going for the big dough, we went for the strong contract. More freedom, more percentage points on the record. There’re a lot of clauses that are on there that are in our favor. Now if our record had bombed, we would have kicked ourselves in the butt and said, “Man, we should have took the cash.” But we were not in it for the money.
How did the Nevermind cover come about?
Cobain: One day Dave and I were sitting around watching a documentary about babies being born underwater, and we thought that was a really neat image. Then when we got a picture of a baby underwater, I thought it would look nice with a fish hook and a dollar bill on it. So the image was born.
What about the back?
Cobain: It’s a collage I made many years ago. I got these pictures of beef from a supermarket poster and cut them out and made a mountain of beef. And then put Dante’s people being thrown into Hell climbing all over it. That’s pretty much it. If you look real close, there’s a picture of Kiss in the back, standing on a slab of beef.
If Courtney and I have a child, we’re thinking of naming it Dante. Dante Conjunctivitis Cobain.
Why did you pick Butch to produce?
Novoselic: We worked with Butch Vig in the springtime of 1990 when we did that demo I mentioned earlier. He was just easy to work with, laid back, really attentive to what’s going on. He works hard, but he doesn’t work the band hard.
Grohl: It was about time that the band recorded something.
Cobain: The studio was called Sound City, the board and the room were really old. The board was from the early ’70s.